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#1885003 - 04/23/12 12:47 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3219
Loc: Virginia, USA
First time I played (in an ensemble) a Viennese waltz for a European conductor he stopped me and corrected my timing.

Excuse me? I do a lot of things wrong, but counting is NOT one of them. I was almost offended. <g>

But beat 2 in a Viennese waltz is played early. It is never notated that way, just understood.
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#1885097 - 04/23/12 03:32 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Thanks, Gary, for that extensive insight. I doesn't help so much with the immediate problem, but lets me know that next year, I'm going to have to start students way earlier if I'm really going to get them into the feel of the music.

John, about "the immediate problem":

Now matter how comfortable it is for me to say, "DabaduBAH", which is close to the way I feel such rhythms and, if FORCED, tend to express it verbally, for my students it has to be:

UH....one, UH....two, uh....(three), where there are 4 8th notes, paired, with the last tied over to the next beat.

And in the beginning, I have to make them say:

UH....one, UH....two, UH....three, UH....four

The problems I run into:

1) With correct syllables, they still play the notes evenly.
2) After setting up the wrong feel in the first measure (or wherever they start), they want to continue that feel for the whole piece.
3) They don't trust that by exaggerating, deliberately distoring the long notes so that they are REALLY long, later it will work.
4) When they stop, they stop on the "uh".

Solutions:

1) Drop the voice, so that "UH" is higher pitch, then glide into the number.
2) Make the numbers long, really long:
UH onnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnneeeeeeee
3) Breathe after each number.
4) Think of each "beat" as a soft sneeze: AH chooooooooooooo [breathe], AH chooooooooooo
5) Insist on out-loud counting (as opposed to "Can I just think it?"). Of course, if the student is not counting but its perfect, there is no need!
6) Ask for just ONE measure, or ONE phrase counted. Stay on it for a week or two until it is absolutely mastered, add a second phrase (or two), then give the student freedom to try to apply it to a whole page, a very large section or the whole thing.

My experience: once the "feel" is mastered, it transfers. It may take a half dozen swing pieces, but when the "groove" is absorbed, it's there. At that point you can take anything yourself and demonstrate it "straight" and "swinging", to really emphasize the huge difference.

Also, once a student has the feel, the notation does not matter too much. Even 8ths, triplets (quarter plus 8th), dotted 8th and 16th, they all fall into the groove. If you do a lot of swing, you may have an opposite problem, trying to get dotted 8ths followed by16ths to stop sounding like triplets.

I hate asking a specific question and getting general answers. Are any of these ideas possibly of use to you? smile
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#1885226 - 04/23/12 06:55 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Gary D.]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Gary, my immediate problem now is lack of time with students between now and Festival date. However, parents are generally thrilled if they play the correct notes most of the time, so rhythm issues are secondary - to them, where as we teachers are generally concerned about a thousand and one details. Actually, when I posed the question, I was thinking into the future, not solving the immediate issue, but this may help anyway.

I think I follow you completely. But this is one of the major problems of these forums. If we were standing face to face, we'd be on another topic already! Just to be safe, I'm going to print out your replies and sit down at the piano and make sure I fully grasp/apply what you're saying.

In my teaching, I tend to over-count and not use enough syllabary, if that's such a word. Thanks for the suggestions, they should help both students and myself.
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"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1885311 - 04/23/12 09:23 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
Gary, my immediate problem now is lack of time with students between now and Festival date. However, parents are generally thrilled if they play the correct notes most of the time, so rhythm issues are secondary - to them, where as we teachers are generally concerned about a thousand and one details. Actually, when I posed the question, I was thinking into the future, not solving the immediate issue, but this may help anyway.

John,

We are on the same page, I think. I was making suggestions for ways to cover this in the future based on MY struggles with teaching it. It's just another one of a zillion things that I don't ever think about, for myself, but have to break down into "bite-sized chunks" for students, especially the slower ones. smile

Good luck!
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#1885519 - 04/24/12 07:28 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Peter K. Mose]
Theme&Variations Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/19/10
Posts: 135
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: Peter K. Mose
John, it's an interesting question you have posed. Are we talking about a piece in which the swing is not notated, except for maybe a little instruction at the top of the piece inviting the performer to swing? I.e., the notation itself is a classical one and the player is supposed to alter it? In that case, I often try to teach both rhythms, because it's fun to be able to do either at will. If it's already a swing notation, however - i.e., with dotted notes - most of my students would be working so hard to honor this trickier notation that they might have trouble playing it evenly ("straight" or "classical").

The concept of swing I find is generally easy for students over the age of maybe 11 to get, and to do.



Agree with everything you've said here, Peter.
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Member:
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KMEIA (Kodály Music Education Institute of Australia).

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#1885569 - 04/24/12 09:21 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Ben Crosland Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/10
Posts: 420
Loc: Worcester, UK
In addition to a broadly similar approach to what Gary D. describes, my current strategy for teaching swing feel involves heart, soul and lots of bananas!
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#1885585 - 04/24/12 10:03 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Ben Crosland]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1885705 - 04/24/12 02:26 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Ben Crosland]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Ben Crosland
In addition to a broadly similar approach to what Gary D. describes, my current strategy for teaching swing feel involves heart, soul and lots of bananas!

Well, there is also "jazz hands". laugh

One of my students, about eight, was just not getting it, which is typical. I kept emphasizing the long numbers or syllables and exaggerated breathing between two note groups. I even said things like:

Oh no................, Oh no..................,

OR

A gain................, A gain.................,

Finally, he says, "I get it!" He said, uh one, and when he got to the "one", he shook his hands, and he kept doing that on all the numbers.

My immediate reaction was, "What the ****?"

But then he immediately started playing it right. That "solution" may never work for another student, but it is interesting how different people work out the concept! wink
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#1887573 - 04/27/12 03:18 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
As a listener, I heard swing, but never really differentiated it from straight, square notation.

As a student, I learned the correct notation and notes first, then learned how to swing the tune. As I gained a better understanding of the groove, my instructor moved from beside the piano bench to the other side of the studio and played drums with my piano playing. This allowed me a better understanding of the swing groove, as well as interaction with a live player.

Hop


Edited by Hop (04/27/12 03:18 PM)
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#1887580 - 04/27/12 03:37 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Hop]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Hop
As a student, I learned the correct notation and notes first, then learned how to swing the tune.


If swing is appropriate, it cannot be "correct" to play either straight 8s or accurate dotted-and-16ths.

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#1887588 - 04/27/12 04:04 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Hop]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4812
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: Hop
As a listener, I heard swing, but never really differentiated it from straight, square notation.

As a student, I learned the correct notation and notes first, then learned how to swing the tune. As I gained a better understanding of the groove, my instructor moved from beside the piano bench to the other side of the studio and played drums with my piano playing. This allowed me a better understanding of the swing groove, as well as interaction with a live player.

Hop

We will be confused by "correct notation". I THINK I understand what you mean, but let me check.

In traditional instruction, 4 eighth notes are all equal in length. Often they are counted: one and two and (etc.)

Those same 4 eighth notes, in swing, will be played with the 8ths on the beat longer and those off the beat shorter. That's where the "2 8th notes = quarter + 8th note with a triplet sign" comes from.

There is also: "dotted 8th + 16th note = quarter + 8th note with a triplet sign".

And sometimes you see both.

The problem is that the notation that is most correct, mathematically, is seldom used because it is a pain in the butt to notate. wink
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#1892779 - 05/07/12 08:53 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Hop Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 654
Loc: Hudson, FL
Of course not. But understanding the written notation first is helpful to understand the syncopation of swing.

I should clarify that I am describing music that is not designated as "swing". When the music is notated as swing (either with triplet notation or dotted eighths), then clearly it should be interpreted and played in swing.

What I was thinking about when I wrote the original post was a tune like Fly me to the Moon. The old lead sheet that I found was in 3/4 time, notated in straight rhythm. I wound up playing it in 4/4 time, in swing (which is what most of us have heard).

I suppose a person could go directly to swing without the intermediate step of understanding the correct notation; it depends on what the student wishes to learn. I must agree that after the first two or three pieces, it's not necessary to dwell on rhythm as notated.
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#1892791 - 05/07/12 09:12 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7393
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Just an update for all - Saturday was the Pop, Jazz, & Duet Fest and my student in question managed a stellar performance with all the swing just perfect. He must have worked his little heart out on this!
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#1892825 - 05/07/12 10:29 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: Hop]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Hop
I suppose a person could go directly to swing without the intermediate step of understanding the correct notation; it depends on what the student wishes to learn. I must agree that after the first two or three pieces, it's not necessary to dwell on rhythm as notated.


I think we need to be very careful with this idea of "correct" notation. Notation is not Holy Writ. Transcribe any piece - "classical" otherwise - literally into a sequencer to demonstrate just how FAR it is from a complete description of the music! If a piece is intended to be swung, there is no "correctness" in taking the notated rhythms literally - quite the opposite. There's no point in learning it wrong then adding swing as an afterthought.

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#1892907 - 05/07/12 12:52 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
TimR Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/04
Posts: 3219
Loc: Virginia, USA
Recently a choir I sing with did Bach's Jesu Joy of, and the director requested the eighth note patterns especially in the bass and tenor lines be swung.

That's one I hadn't run into before, but I'm always willing to follow direction.

The tenors were utterly unable to comply. The concept was beyond them.
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#1892918 - 05/07/12 01:07 PM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
I wonder if they could have swung "Fly ne to the moon"? A touch of cognitive dissonance perhaps? Maybe if he had asked for Notes Inegales? The Wikipedia article interestingly discusses this possibility in Bach.

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#2333636 - 10/03/14 06:58 AM Re: Swing question for teachers [Re: John v.d.Brook]
Nahum Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/27/14
Posts: 95
Loc: Israel
Swing feel is an element of the English language in its American version . Therefore, it is necessary to work on it at the beginning, using the lyrics of swing or bebop songs: In the Mood ( Andrews Sisters ), Satin Doll (Ella Fitzgerald version), Duke's Place (Ella), Ornithology (Eddie Jefferson), etc. The correct pronunciation of the text in right rhythm   is initially creates swing feel , before touching the instrument; only requires coordination between the mouth, hands and fingers .
I have developed for this method using a melodica, which closely integrates the rhythm of pronunciation, breath and fingers. He is very simple and very effective.

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